Norm Architects' interiors for The Office Group's latest Berlin project invites the street inside – then cocoons with domestic design
The Office Group (TOG) may have been born in London, but it has also operated in Germany for a while, too, bringing its approach to co-working locations in Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg. The same design rules apply across the board: use studios at the top of their game to reimagine often-forgotten existing buildings; and always bring a strong sense of place to the interiors.
A new location in the German capital is the latest to get this treatment. Linden Palais is in the city-centre neighbourhood of Mitte, housed in a 1908 classical building that was once known as the French Palace when it spent some time as the French Embassy (it is also a rare survivor of the second world war).
The commanding appearance of the architecture itself has spurred on its interior designer, Copenhagen-based Norm Architects, to create an equally high-quality finish inside – although where there are monumental stone blocks, enormous arched window surrounds and ornate iron balconies outside, inside is a quieter affair, with herringbone parquet floors, marble kitchens and minimal steel stair balustrades. Those huge windows are a still a major feature, though, drawing the eye outside to the tree-lined street outside, Unter der Linden, and letting in an abundance of light.
Norm envisaged two separate threads to its design. The first takes shape in the lobby, intended to be a transitional space between the leafy street outside and the interiors: an elegant colonnade and plenty of greenery mimic the form of a line of trees, while the concrete floors are a more refined version of a paving slab. A mossy-green fabric has been used to upholster the banquettes and loose furniture, while one wall is clad in dark-stained timber.
On the upper floors, the second design concept is more residential in tone, an aesthetic that Norm calls “the heritage apartment”. The parquet floors and timber joinery lend a warmer feel, while art and sculpture decorate the walls and marble plinths; paper light-shades, curtains, rugs and books all help to create the atmosphere of a private home rather than a workplace.
“As we set out to create the concept for Linden Palais, we formed working titles [for the spaces] such as ‘kitchen’, ‘library’ and ‘living room’ to always keep in mind the domesticity that we wanted to integrate in the working environment,” says Norm Architects’ Sofie Thorning. The colour palette is soft, too, with each space given its own identity (partly as an aid to navigation), with pale blue-grey, dark grey and biscuit tones contrasting with different timbers and marbles.
David Chipperfield Architects was responsible for the redevelopment of the building itself, adding two new floors on top. Workers can head up to the sixth floor of Linden Palais to the relaxing roof terrace, which takes in some amazing views over Mitte and beyond.